Category Archives: How To

There’s a quarry in my belly!

diamondsHello everyone. It’s me again. I am so happy to be back. I have been away due to a number of reasons. The biggest being a kidney stone, which I am pretty sure is a fate worse than death (never been dead and don’t know for sure). But here I am, two months, two trips to the emergency room, three doctor visits, a few thousand Percocets (grossly exaggerated as a literary device) and one minor surgery later.  I haven’t been able to go without researching where the little stony creatures come from and how exactly to avoid them in the future. And while there are some people in this world that I may not care for, there are none that I hate enough to wish upon them a kidney stone (and I’m not just saying that). So here it is, the definitive guide to avoiding a kidney stone for you and my enemies.

Before you can understand exactly how to avoid kidney stones, you have to know what a kidney stone is. As defined by The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse, a kidney stone is a hard mass developed from crystals that separate from the urine within the urinary tract. They are considered to be one of the most painful urological disorders and amazingly but not surprisingly has been plaguing humanity for thousands of years, being found in an ancient Egyptian mummy.

Normally, urine contains chemicals that prevent or inhibit the crystals from forming. These inhibitors do not seem to work for everyone, however, so some people form stones. If the crystals remain tiny enough, they will travel through the urinary tract and pass out of the body in the urine without being noticed. But there are times when these stones do not pass on their own and they continue to build. When this happens it sometimes requires doctor intervention which unlike days of yore is not very invasive and is generally done on an outpatient basis.

A less common type of stone is caused by infection in the urinary tract. This type of stone is called a struvite or infection stone. Another type of stone, uric acid stones, are a bit less common, and cystine stones are rare.

Any of this sound like fun? Ok, let’s examine how to help keep from having to go though this terrible experience. Keep in mind that these are just some tips are are not designed to be medical advice. You need to discuss your options including your diet and lifestyle with your doctor.

Tip #1 To Avoid Kidney Stones, drink water.

Things you can do to avoid kidney stones include drinking water. Your body needs enough fluid to remove waste from your body. If your body doesn’t have enough water you will start to collect pieces of waste in your kidneys and this turns into kidney stones. You should drink enough fluids to make 2 liters or urine per day. Doctors have recommended drinking 8 eight ounce glasses of water a day or adding at least four 8 ounce glasses of water to whatever you are already drinking. Coffee and soda do not count, you need water to remove the impurities from your system.

Tip #2 To Avoid Kidney Stones, increase fiber and decrease protein in your diet.
Eating a diet high fiber and low in protein helps to avoid kidney stones. People with diets high in protein and low in fiber run an increased risk of kidney stones. Uric acid stones are produced if your diet is too rich in protein. You shouldn’t eat more than two servings of meat a day if your body forms kidney stones. A serving should be no more than six to eight ounces. Uric acid type kidney stones are produced when there is too much acid in the urine. Uric acid type kidney stones also can be formed if you are on chemotherapy. When your body decomposes red meats a substance is produced that ends up in your urine.

Tip #3 To Avoid Kidney Stones, decrease the amount of calcium in your diet.
Decreasing the amounts of Calcium you are eating can also help avoid kidney stones. For most people one to two servings of dairy products are okay, even if their body produces calcium based kidney stones.

Tip #4 To Avoid Kidney Stones, decrease sodium intake.
Decreasing your sodium intake also reduces your risk of kidney stones. You should limit your intake of sodium to below 1,500mg daily. Limiting your sodium intake means not only not adding salt to your foods. Limiting sodium from your diet means you read labels and do not eat foods high in sodium. Just because you don’t add salt to everything doesn’t mean that you don’t have a lot of sodium in your diet.

Tip #5 To Avoid Kidney Stones, be active.

Being active will also help to avoid stones. People who are bedridden have an increased risk of kidney stones. Being physically active is good for your overall health. If you are unable to regularly exercise you should still get up and move around on a regular basis. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle you are at risk for kidney stones.

Tip #6 To Avoid Kidney Stones, avoid cranberries.
I know, you are told if you have bladder infections cranberries are the cure-all. If you produce kidney stones cranberries can actually cause you more trouble. Avoiding cranberries and avoiding eating large quantities of tree nuts can help you to avoid kidney stones.

Tip #7 To Avoid Kidney Stones, increase citric acid/vitamin C in your diet.
Increasing the amount of citrus you eat helps your body to dissolve kidney stones. You can do this in many ways, one of the easiest is to add a small amount of lemon to your water that you are drinking. You can also add fresh citrus fruits to your diet along with adding bell peppers and canned mandarin oranges. Fruit juice also helps, just remember if you are trying to avoid kidney stones you probably don’t want the calcium fortified juices.

Tip #8 To Avoid Kidney Stones, listen to your body.
The best tip I can give you is to listen to your body. If you end up feeling sicker after certain foods you should probably avoid them. If you find that drinking a certain amount of fluids is best for you go with it. You can tell when your body is feeling its best.

Most importantly, follow your doctor’s advice. Ask questions. And trust your own judgment (unless you have been proven to not know what you are doing, in that case trust your doctor).

Want to know more? Here are some links you can follow for all the latest:

The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse

WebMD

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I Suffer From Sphenopalatine Ganglioneuralgia

Sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia is a condition that billions of people worldwide suffer from. Sphenopalatinebrainfreeze ganglioneuralgia, also known as icebergers syndrome, brain freeze or ice-cream headache, is a painful condition. But fear not. It is not fatal and is only temporary. I am sure that you have at some point in your life gotten brain freeze, and I am sure that you already know that it comes from eating or drinking something cold too quickly. But what exactly is taking place when this horrible condition strikes? Well today we clear up that mystery.

The pain is caused by the rapid cooling of the roof of the mouth, which is close to the sphenopalatine nerve, a section of an extensive bundle of nerves running from the face up into the brain.When this nerve gets cold, it fires off a danger signal that the entire head is about to become chilled and warns the vascular system to start pumping more blood to the brain to keep it warm. Vessels open up and the sudden in-rush of warm blood causes a painful sensation, which lasts anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. By that time the body has rewarmed the sphenopalantine nerve and the blood flow to the brain reduces to normal levels, stopping the pain.The source of the pain has been described as being similar to that resulting from sticking hands chilled in winter into a bucket of warm water. The sudden increase in blood flow and associated expansion causes pain. Brain freezes are called “referred pain” because the pain occurs in a location (the brain) that’s different than the location of the stimulus (the roof of the mouth.)

One third of all people are statistically susceptible to brain freezes. They are more often caused by eating ice cream than drinking an iced beverage because ice cream is colder than ice. Also, they are much more common when the weather is warm than when it’s cold, suggesting that it’s the rate or amount of temperature change that’s important.

The quickest way to relieve a brain freeze it to take a drink of warm water and hold it against the roof of your mouth. Since they are over so quickly anyway and it’s unlikely that you’re going to be holding a cup of hot water in one hand at the same time that you are holding an ice cream cone in the other, the next best thing to do is press your tongue against the roof of your mouth to rewarm the nerve.

Prevention is simple: Give up ice-cream . . . OR eat and drink very cold foods slowly.

Reference:

WikipediaBrain Freeze

AnswerBag.comWhat Causes Brain Freeze?

Holy smoke – How premium cigars are made

There is nothing better after a long, hard day at work than a great cigar. Though cigar smoking is a modern method of relaxation and a social activity, its origin dates back over 1000 years. It was started by the original native population of the islands in the Caribbean as well as the rest of Mesoamerica in as early as 900 AD. In fact, a ceramic vessel at a Mayan dig site in Uaxactun, Guatemala has been found, which was painted with the likeness of a man smoking a cigar. But just how are those little “sticks” of tobacco made. Though many cigars available today are machine made, the finest cigars are still rolled by hand. Cigars hail from many places around the globe, though mostly from places with warmer climates such as Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. The most famous, and hardest to obtain, is the Cuban cigar. 

The hand rolled Cuban cigar is the benchmark of all cigars. It is made up of three components derived from two varieties of tobacco plants: the criollo and corojo. The components that make up the cigar include the tripa or filler in the center and a capoteor binder around the tripa, both of which are taken from the criolla plant. A cappaor wrapper is then stretched and rolled around the outside; this is taken from the corojo.

To begin with, tobacco leaves are stacked in three-feet-high pilones. The leaves are stored at temperatures not exceeding 95ºF (35ºC). The fermentation breaks down the resins and creates a uniformity of color. Leaves are then graded for size and color before a second fermentation.

After three weeks, the leaves are placed into bundles called tercios. They are put aside for a few months in cigar factories in order to age. Prior to rolling, the leaves are gently separated and lightly moistened with high-pressure water. The stems are removed and the remaining leaves are graded into size, color and texture.

The cigar filler is made up of three leaves – volado, seco and ligero, and throughout the process the progress of each is monitored. Once they have reached perfection, they are taken to the blending room, known as the liga. Great secrecy surrounds individual cigar blends.

The rollers known as torcedores sit at benches, seven or more to a row. They use a half-moon blade and a wooden board. Two to four leaves are combined with the binder and rolled into bunches, according to blend. After they are pressed in a wooden mold, they are wrapped and trimmed. They are then capped using leaf and a natural gum.

An expert torcedore can roll around 150 cigars per day. These are placed into bundles of 50 and checked for quality. The cigars are then placed in conditioning rooms for up to three weeks for the flavors to gel. The most respected and highest paid cigar factory workers are called escogedores, or color graders. They work at incredible speeds, grading the cigars according to color and texture.

There are 65 different shades in the cigar making process. Other workers arrange the cigars into boxes from dark on the left to light on the right. The cigars are then removed from the boxes and banded. The women who band the cigars are called anilladoras, and they use a simple measuring rule and gum. The cigars are then ready to be exported all over the world. Well not to the US (at least not legally) because of an embargo placed on Cuba.

To read more about the fascinating process of cigar rolling or the history of cigars, check out the links below.

The History of Cigars – TomTom Cigars (London)

Cigar Production Methods – about.com

 

I went to Electoral College – How a President is Elected 101

Did you know that your vote doesn’t really decide who becomes President? It does indirectly, but you are really casting a vote to let someone else know who you want them to vote for. Many people don’t understand the current electoral system. And it can be a bit confusing. So, let me simplify it as much as I can.

When you vote for a presidential candidate you are really voting to instruct the electors from your state to cast their votes for the same candidate. For example, if you vote for the Republican candidate, you are really voting for an elector (delegate) who will be “pledged” to vote for the Republican candidate. The candidate who wins the popular vote in a state wins all the pledged votes of the state’s electors. In some states, those electors are required to vote for the candidate who received the popular vote. However some states do not require candidate loyalty and those electors can cast their vote for whoever they choose.

Some say that the current system is flawed because it allows for a candidate to win the vote of the people (popular vote) but lose the election. This is because in order for a candidate to win the election, he or she must receive a total of 270 electoral votes to become president. There are 538 in all. If a candidate were to win the popular vote in 11 of 12 states, they would receive enough electoral votes to win the Presidency. The 12 states are:

California
New York
Texas
Florida
Pennsylvania
Illinois
Ohio
Michigan
New Jersey
North Carolina
Georgia
Virginia

Has a candidate ever won the popular vote and not won the Presidency? Yes they have, but only three times in history.

  • In 1876there were a total of 369 electoral votes available with 185 needed to win. Republican Rutherford B. Hayes, with 4,036,298 popular votes won 185 electoral votes. His main opponent, Democrat Samuel J. Tilden, won the popular vote with 4,300,590 votes, but won only 184 electoral votes. Hayes was elected president. 
  • In 1888 there were a total of 401 electoral votes available with 201 needed to win. Republican Benjamin Harrison, with 5,439,853 popular votes won 233 electoral votes. His main opponent, Democrat Grover Cleveland, won the popular vote with 5,540,309 votes, but won only 168 electoral votes. Harrison was elected president. 
  • In 2000 there were a total of 538 electoral votes available with 270 needed to win. Republican George W. Bush, with 50,456,002 popular votes won 271 electoral votes. His Democratic opponent, Al Gore, won the popular vote with 50,999,897 votes, but won only 266 electoral votes. Bush was elected president.
  • The electoral system that we currently use is lambasted by many opponents as unjust. It is set up, however, to insure that a candidate with only regional appeal or popularity doesn’t win. It has worked reasonably well for 200 years. So, regardless of how you feel about our current system of electing a president, I hope that you will go out and vote. Every vote does count, though maybe not in the way you would think.

    To read more on the Electoral College please visit the links below.

    How the Electoral College Works –Howstuffworks.com

    The Electoral College: How It Works In Contemporary Presidential Elections – Congressional Report

     

    Problems with gas?

    Diagram of IntestineSo if you are reading this because you want to decrease bloating and flatulence, then you should read this articlefrom Jackson-Siegelbaum Gastroenterology.

    Odds are though that you are reading this because of the inflation of gas prices over the past couple of years.

    With fuel prices at an all time high, and with no relief in sight, getting the most out a tank of gas is Fuel Pumpweighing heavily on the minds of most Americans. Sure, you could always walk to work or perhaps ride a bicycle, but the reality of the matter is that we depend greatly on motor vehicles to get us to and from work, the grocery and other obligations. The fine folks at Howstuffworks.com with the help of Consumer Guide® have put together a list of ways to improve your fuel economy. Here are a few examples.

    • S-L-O-W D-O-W-N. Going fast is so tempting. Not only do we do it to keep up with the flow of traffic, but if we can save even five minutes, it seems worth it. But if you’re on the highway, driving 60 miles per hour instead of 70 mph will save you 2-4 miles per gallon over the duration of your trip.
    • Windows up. Again, this is tough, especially on pleasant days. But having the windows down creates aerodynamic drag that causes an engine to work harder. On the highway, this can decrease fuel economy by up to 10 percent.
    • Lighten up. The less weight in your vehicle, the better your fuel economy. Clean out that trunk!

    The complete article is available at the link below.

    How to improve your fuel economy– Howstuffworks.com